Friday, February 27, 2015

Wedding Week: The Ceremony

The ceremony was a little tough for me.

It made me want to puke thinking of walking down the aisle with everyone staring at me. Traditionally, a girl's dad is suppose to walk her down the aisle, but my dad and I haven't spoken in over seven years. I've heard of untraditional weddings where the bride and groom walk down the aisle together, but that was too untraditional for us. Another thought was to have my sister walk me down the aisle, but that was weird too.

Then came the ceremony itself. We aren't terribly religious people, so it wasn't going to be a religious ceremony. There's the option for unity candles, sand or other creative things, but that seemed like too much. And what happens when the candles are gone or you break the jar full of sand? Sad!

The sweet gentleman that married us is a good friend of my grandmas and a retired judge and when I spoke with him, he told me he'd say anything we'd like.

Turns out, there are traditionall nine parts of to a wedding cermony, so, after lots of online research and lots of thought, we put together this ceremony that we felt fit us pretty well. We both agreed upon a very simple ceremony. So here it is, for your viewing pleasure :)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wedding Week: Spa, Set up & Rehearsal

We were fortunate enough to have access to our venue the day before the wedding in order to decorate and set everything up. We're also fortunate to have an amazing family and my best friend who flew in from North Dakota (don't'cha know!) to help us!

My sister stayed with me Thursday night and we woke up to a cold, rainy Friday morning. She had booked us a mani-pedi and since my best friend flew in the night before, my mom picked all of us up and we we went to our appointment. I was a salon virgin and for those of you who have never been, it was amazing. I have the most horribly ticklish feet and had trouble sitting through this gal massaging and cleaning my feet, but man did it feel good.

Afterwards, we grabbed a late breakfast before heading back to the house. We were met at the door by these three cuties...

They had the truck all loaded and ready to head over to the barn to set up. My sister and Amanda ran to the tanner while I rounded up a few more odds and ends, then we headed over to the wedding venue. 

Forewarning- these pictures were taken with my phone so they are all mostly blurry and quite poor quality, please forgive me!

Wedding Week: Paper Duty

I looked all over the internet searching 'farm wedding invitations', but I had a hard time finding exactly what I was looking for. They were either too colorful or too modern, had a giant tractor, ear of corn or some other obnoxiously obvious farm subject on the front. Not what I was going for.

It was quite a hunt to pick out invitations, but in the end we found something that was completely us.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wedding Week: All About That Cake

No wedding is complete without the sweet stuff.

Our cake came from Holland Cakery and was by far the yummiest cake that Kelly and I have ever had. It traveled with us all the way from Michigan to Colorado and back, and we decided that each year on our anniversary we are going to order a small cake to celebrate. I mean, I can't even explain how scrumptious these cakes were. The small round cake below was our little 'bride & groom' cake to cut. 

And how gorgeous is this dessert area? It's cut into the wall and is surrounded by a curved glass window that looks out to the beautiful grounds surrounding the venue. The whole bottom was hand-tiled with pennies by one of the owners.

It's completely enclosed in glass, glass that happened to be so clean that when one of our guests got up to look at the cake, they put their face smack into the glass! Unfortunately, we didn't get a picture of the noseprint. .

Click on to see more about our sweet stuff...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Wedding Week: The Venue

The venue turned out to be one of the most important parts! After we decided not to elope, we thought it would be just perfect to get married in Kelly's side yard, where we would be living. There is a huge, open green lawn next to his house that stretches almost all the way to the field in the back. It was the perfect amount of space for a band, tables and food- also a tent if need be. 

I thank my lucky stars that we found the venue. The day before our wedding was freezing cold and rainy and the day of the wedding itself was even worse. There was sleet in the morning and it poured freezing cold rain all day long. If we had planned it for the side yard, we would have been out of luck. 

We had settled on having the shindig at the house, we had a tent ready to be ordered and a deposit on the bathroom trailer. Then one day out of the blue, my mom called. She said "Ted and I were on the back roads this weekend and saw some people getting married near a pole barn next to a pond, do you know where that is?" 

Ummmm.... No mother I do not and I don't want to hear about it, the party is happening in the yard in less than two months are you trying to give me a heart attack?! 

So the subject of the barn wasn't brought up again. Then one day out of the blue, upon returning to work from my lunch break, I feel someone staring at me. It's my coworker. She's holding a brochure in front of her face with a look that says 'Please don't hurt me...'

"What now?!" I asked. 

"Ummm..." she replied, "I'm really sorry, but one of our clients just dropped this off. He came in to pay and left his checkbook in the truck, and when he came back in he brought this brochure. He said his wife and stepdaughter started, here's the brochure, just look."

I got up from my desk, walked very calmly over to her (staring daggers the whole time) and, very politely, snatched the brochure from her hand.

I sat down at my desk, opened the brochure and my mouth fell open. It was perfect. The barn, the pond, the beautiful flowers, everything was perfect. 

I called my mom right away with the exciting news and can you guess what she told me? It was the barn she saw. What do you call it when something keeps falling right in your lap time after time? I think it was fate. 

It turns out that they were newly opened that year and there had only been a few weddings that had taken place there. They still had a couple openings before they closed for the year, October 4th was it. I called Kelly, he was fine with it so I called the venue back and booked them right away. 

We scheduled to go visit the barn that Saturday, about three days from then. This is where the story gets a bit crazier. The property is actually owned by my husband's stepmom's uncle. 

What's even better than that? Kelly farms the fields that surround this venue. That means that when we were going to be getting married, we'd be surrounded by fields of corn that he planted. I swear, it was just meant to be. 

This lovely little building is the bridal suite where the ladies would be getting ready. 

There's a bucket of fish food on that bench next to the pond. The pond was completely full of fish so that whenever you threw a handful, they'd swarm and jump trying to get their share of food.

Isn't it gorgeous? 

And this is the grooms room where the gents would be getting ready. Little did we know, come the day of the wedding, we would be trading rooms because of the weather! 

We'd be getting married in the little, open air chapel that you can see in the 2nd and 3rd pictures in this post. I had to add this photo of it covered in winter snow. How absolutely stunning would it be to get married in the snow under that chapel? 

This is the veranda where there would be appetizers and drinks being served immediately following the ceremony. 

We had made a few yard games, giant Jenga and bean bags, for people to play in the afternoon sun while the family was taking photos. 

The venue is located on an old family-run apple orchard. It was really neat because they used some of the old apple crates for the wood in the barn and the chapel. Here and there, you would see a faint 'Dendel' stamped into the wood. 

They had a beautiful bar and lounge area, and the bar top was covered in pennies. 

We loved how open it was and all of the old, rustic wood on the inside. Plus, the dance floor was made completely of pennies! 

Stay tuned to see how we turned this place into our own!

{{Photos from The Barn at Monterey Valley}}

Wedding Week: Tough Decisions

Our original idea was to elope. I get pretty anxious in crowds of people and am super nervous when the attention is on me. I was never someone who had a dream wedding in mind, in fact, I didn't want a wedding at all. Even the thought of it made my armpits sweat.

Our original plan was to elope, then have our honeymoon immediately after. We were going to plan a giant, casual outdoor celebration for when we returned home, and have photos and a video of the ceremony to share with everyone.

I have to say that the majority of our friends and family were very supportive of any choice we were going to make, but, as you can imagine, there still some strong opinions from a few people.

One suggestion was to have a small, family-only ceremony. I was absolutely against this. Where do you stop? Where does your 'family' stop? Immediate family? Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins? None of that worked. Family is family, plus, Kelly and I both have people in our life who aren't actually blood, but we consider family just the same.

So let me give you the quick run down of how we decided to have an actual wedding. March 2nd was the proposal. We were planning to elope in late September. July came around and I decided that I should probably get started looking for a dress. So here comes Saturday morning on July 12th, I have an appointment at a bridal salon with my mom and sister. I am absolutely not a shopper. I was a tomboy growing up, hated wearing dresses and in my teenage years, the mall wasn't a place where I liked to hang out. Needless to say I was crossing my fingers that this would be a one-stop-shop.

We arrive and picked out about 12 gowns to try on- my mom and sister each got one pick that I didn't have to like, but had to try on. My mom's pick was somewhat my style, but my sisters pick, well, we have very different style. Let's just say rhinestones, tulle, and if there was a tiara, I would be wearing it! 

As I'm in the dressing room, the bridal assistant tells me that she didn't realize that I needed my dress by October 4th of this year. She thought I was shopping for 2015. Apparently shopping for a wedding dress less that three months before the wedding isn't normal? So anywhoo, she had to pull about half of my choices because the dresses wouldn't be ready in time. I think my sister about had a heart attack for me, but that's what I get, right?

I ended up falling in love with the first dress that I tried on, although I did still try on the other few I had left. We made some minor tweaks to the dress, I really wanted sleeves so they added them using the same lace of the dress overlay. It also had a pretty satin sash around the waist that I had them remove.

So that's when it happened. I have the dress on for the second time, we've makeshift pinned some sleeves on and have a good idea of how it will look. I say 'this is the one' and look back to see my mom and sister sitting next to each other on the sofa, sitting so super still with tears in their eyes and looking like they're holding their breath. Emotions took over and I said "I think we're having a wedding." (then the tears really came- Ha!)

The ladies at the bridal shop took some measurements while we picked out a veil and within two hours, my mom, sister and I walked out of the bridal salon. I felt like I had been in a whirlwind and little did I know the mass chaos that would ensue.

Once we got in the car, I did the responsible thing and called Kelly to...ask...him if it was okay. He just laughed and said thank goodness we only have until a couple more months or I'd be changing my mind nine more times!

So that fateful day of July 12th is when the wedding madness began. That left us 84 days to plan a wedding. Oh boy. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Wedding Week: The Proposal

Tuesday, March 4th 2014.

Today was a day like any other, or so it began anyway. I woke up and got ready for work, a little more motivated today than most days because Kelly & I are leaving for a mini-vacation in Texas two days from now- woohoo! Buh-bye Michigan and your three feet of snow and frigid temperatures! Sayonara! 

While talking with him on the phone this morning, he asked what I was doing after work, which is a little annoying because I told him yesterday that I'm going up to the barn. Can this guy not remember anything?!

After work, I'm lucky to make it to the barn safely as I've spent most of the drive daydreaming about warm weather, drinks on the Riverwalk and county fairs. There are two lessons tonight, everyone is excited to ride and there's a great atmosphere in the arena, despite the 17 degree weather. After the last lesson is finished, the instructor asks me to walk Louie around the arena while she meets a potential student who is waiting in the office.

When I reach the end of the arena, I hear, "Hey!" in a man's voice. It's a little odd because there aren't any men at the barn tonight and when I turn around, I see Kelly. He had told me previously that he wanted to come to the barn one night to see what it was all about, so I'm thinking he must have been watching from the observation room.

Louie and I are stopped and waiting for him as he's jogging across the arena towards us. He slows to a walk once he reaches us and as he gets closer, he looks at me and says "The reason that you're still here is because of me..." and for a minute, I'm completely confused and have no idea what he's talking about. Then, as he reaches into his pocket, he gets this sweet, sweet look on his face and my heart drops all the way to my toes then slams up into my throat. 

I know whats happening!

He proceeds to say a bunch of lovely things that I can't even remember other than they made my heart melt. My eyes are watering, my legs start shaking uncontrollably, and I'm pretty sure I'm nodding my head 'Yes' before he even asks the question. 

Good thing for sweet horses! Louie just stood there looking at Kelly curiously, probably wondering why this guy ran over to kneel on the ground.


Unbeknown to me, Kelly had coordinated this all with one of the instructors and she was sweet enough to capture a couple pictures with her phone. As if I would forget any of this night :)

Since we had driven separately, we decided to meet at the truck stop so I was able to park my car and jump in with him, then we went to dinner. Since we were both in our ratty barn clothes, we didn't go anywhere fancy. We went to a a little diner and as we were sitting there, I looked around the diner and noticed that 90% of the people were elderly couples. They were drinking their coffee and sharing dessert after dinner. It made my heart about burst because I thought, someday, that will be us. Drinking our coffee and tea, sharing dessert after a long life of loving each other.  

It was a little surreal to be living in our own little world where no one knew what had happened. We didn't call anyone right away and I found out that only a couple people knew this was going to be happening. He had asked for my parent's blessing previously, then stopped to tell his grandma on his way to the barn.

We got home that night and decided that we couldn't live in our own secret world much longer, so we got back in the car and headed to his mom's house. On the way we called everyone- my parents (who were out of the country), my grandparents, siblings and friends.

It was such a wonderful night, I still get butterflies when I think about it.

He told me that he debated waiting to propose on vacation, but knew that the barn was very special to me so he chose to do it there. It is a perfect memory for me. Him in his dirty work clothes and torn Carhartt jacket, me in my muck boots with a horse by my side.

Wedding Week

Crazy to believe, but we're going on a whopping 5 months of marriage next week.

To celebrate, I thought I'd share a little bit of how we made our marriage official... all the way from proposal until our feet hit the dance floor!

First post coming up at noon, I hope you enjoy!

{Photos by Meg Day}

Friday, February 20, 2015

Happy Weekend

What are you up to this weekend? We're going to a hockey game tonight! I'm so looking forward to throwing on some jeans & a sweatshirt and washing down a hot dog with a giant glass of beer. After the game, we're staying at a hotel a couple blocks away. With this weather, nothing sounds better than soaking in a hot tub. In an effort to save some money, we didn't plan any big vacations this winter, so I'm super excited to get away even if it's just for a night.

Here's some links to enjoy with your morning vice;

This carrot ginger smoothie sounds nice and refreshing.
Something new to revamp your flower bouquet.
This took me back to childhood in the 90s.
Solutions to rid hair of static this winter.
The deeper meaning behind irritability.
Waterbeds for cows. Seriously.
Green & thrifty cleaning products.
LOL. True love
and if anyone in Michigan is thinking about going out this weekend.
I have an exciting suprise for you on Monday, don't forget to check back!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

9 DIY Compost Bins

Here are some other great ideas for DIY compost bins. They aren't as quick and easy as ours, but they're quite creative. I love the one with the wine barrels, it would look pretty out back even if you do look like a bunch of wine-os! 
Hardware Cloth Bin        -        Wood & Wire Triple Bin        -        Brick & Wire Stationary Bin

$40 Chicken Wire Bin        -        PVC Pipe Aerator        -        Cement Block Compost Area
If you missed it, how to compost.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cheap, Easy DIY Compost Bin

We talked about how to compost, so I wanted to show you how I made our compost bin. It cost $20.00, and took about 5 minutes of labor.

Please forgive the horrendous photos taken with my phone. There's been an artic wind that blows straight through everything and it's warmer at the North Pole. Seriously. Honey snapped some quick photos, so hopefully they're good enough to give you an idea.

All you need is a simple, outdoor plastic garbage bin with a lid and two bungee cords. Remember, one of the key elements in producing compost is the mass of your pile, so make sure you get a large enough bin; we went with the 30 gallon.

Oh and if you have dogs, your compost bin might just turn into a giant fun play toy.

Did I mention that it was like 3 degrees outside? If was finally sunny and we just couldn't stay inside any longer.
The only tool you will need is a drill fitted with one of the larger drill bits, I used a 3/8.

Take your drill and start making holes. My normally warm wool gloves didn't help much, the project took all of five minutes and my fingers were like icicles when it was finished.

Yep, just get right in there with that bad boy. I don't have an exact amount of holes, just drill so there's a fair amount of air able to circulate throughout the barrel.

Once your barrel is full of holes, you're done! Isn't it fabulous? 

We're going to fill the bin to the top line, then comes the super easy part. Remember that the compost needs to be turned every couple days? Use those two bungee cords to make sure that the lid is nice and tight, then simply flop the bin into it's side and roll it around the yard. Easy-shmeasy lemon peasy.
Do you compost? Any tips or tricks?

Monday, February 16, 2015

How To Compost

Photo by Diana House, modified
Browns + Greens + Moisture + Turning + Time = Compost

Simple, right? The actual formula would combine the perfectly exact amount of carbon, nitrogen, a little high quality H20, air, and heat, but I'm breaking it down to Allison terms. Easy.

Researchers  John A. Biernbaum & Andy Fogiel from the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University describe composting like this; 'Making compost is managing a microbe farm.  All it takes is food, air, and water, just like for any other farm animal.  The food does require a certain degree of a balanced diet as for any other living creature.' 

Remember the good old-fashioned food pyramid? It was stamped on every box of food to let us know the right number of servings for a healthy, balanced diet. Your compost needs a balanced diet as well.

Below is a list of foods to feed your pile - it's not all inclusive, but gives an idea. I like to think of the 'Browns' being dry and dead, and the 'Greens' wet and living.

Browns (Carbon):  
Dry Leaves 
Dry Hay 
Dry Grass Clippings 
Dry Corn Stalks 
Sawdust (from untreated wood)
Nut Shells
Shredded Paper (watch for toxic ink)
Shredded Cardboard
Paper Tubes

Greens (Nitrogen):
Vegetable Scraps
Fruit Scraps
Coffee Grounds w/ Filter
Tea Leaves w/ Bag
Fresh Grass Clippings
Plant Trimmings
Garden Weeds
House Plants
Chicken Manure
Eggs Shells (neutral)

Some Things NOT to Compost:
Large Wood Scraps (long break down time) 
Treated Wood
Colored Paper (be careful for metallic or toxic ink)
Weeds Gone to Seed (Like Gloria Gaynor - they will survive)
Meat Scraps 
Fish Scraps
Dairy Scraps 
Baked Goods
Cooking Oil
Greasy Foods
Heavily Coated Paper 
Aluminum Foil
Dog or Cat Waste (if garden is for human consumption - USDA Study)
Plastics - Recycle!

Now, there are two different kinds of compost. 'Hot' compost takes a little bit of manual labor and the process of decomposition is complete in about two months. 'Cold' compost can take up to two years to decompose, but takes minimal effort- basically throwing everything in a pile and leaving it. Today we're talking 'Hot' compost.

Per scientific studies, your compost pile should be fed a ratio of 25-30:1 Carbon/Nitrogen. Breaking it down to Allison terms; 2 buckets of Browns for every 1 bucket of Greens. 

Excessive Browns will cause your pile to dry out and decomposition to slow down. At the same time, excessive Greens will cause the pile to become too wet and result in ammonia gas releasing- stinky. No one one likes a stinky pile. I don't even like to say stinky pile. Stinky pile. Eww.

Monitoring the moisture will help prevent the stink and keep the composting process speeding along. If you notice your pile becoming too wet, add some Browns. If you notice it becoming too dry, add some Greens or simply sprinkle it with a little water.  

Alright, we've covered food and water, now let's talk about air. Bacteria is going to break down your pile of scraps, and that bacteria needs air to survive.  You don't want to have a smooshed, flat pile and think that just because it's surrounded by air, that will be sufficient. A 'Hot' pile needs air on the inside too. The pile should be nice and fluffy. This can be done by mixing and fluffing your pile with a pitchfork, or by using a fancy compost tumbler.

The last thing the pile needs is heat- after all, it's called 'Hot' compost for a reason. The internal temperature of the pile should be about 140 to 160 degrees F. You can purchase a compost thermometer for around $20.00. It takes about 2 weeks to generate a good amount of heat, and during those weeks you'll need to turn the pile at least five times in order to distribute the heat through all of the materials and keep it at the correct temperature.

I'm going to add scary factor in here. If it gets too hot, it can combust. Yea, apparently that happens in real life. All I can picture is walking outside to a magic fire like I'm Khaleesi in Dragon Land or something. You must turn the pile. 

When the pile is no longer generating heat, the process is almost complete (and now I'm Dr. Seuss), it just need to sit for a couple of weeks to cure.

Which leads me to the final ingredient; time. I like to quote Jim Morrison... 'If you book them, they will come.'

Tips to speed decomposition process:
Mass: Pile size should be 3x3 minimum
Material Size: Keep Browns & Greens shredded and chopped to small pieces 
TemperatureKeep it 140 to 160 F
Breathability: Shake, rattle & roll - aerate that thing!
Mix it Up: This isn't a layer cake, it's a tossed salad
Moisture: Not too dry, definitely not too slimy

Lastly, how do we determine when we have the final, completed product? The process is completed is when none of the materials are recognizable. No leftover carrot chunks or pieces of straw, and definitely no sprouted weeds or plants.

Another suggestion is to scoop up some compost into a mason jar, add water until it's soggy, twist on the lid and let it sit for a week. When you open the jar, it should smell earthy. If it smells icky, it's not finished.

So, now that we've got the 'how' to compost taken care of, where does this process take place? A homemade wooden box? A wire mesh bin? A store-bought composter? There are tons of options, so check back tomorrow and I'll show you how I made our cheap, easy DIY compost bin. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

16 Heart-Shaped Valentine's Day Recipes

Here are sixteen disgustingly adorable recipes for all of your heart-shaped Valentine's day needs.

These were pulled from all over the web, so you should be covered for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and dessert- there's even some vegan and gluten free recipes listed.

Fruit Kabobs     -      Potato Chips Vegan, GF      -      Banana Pancakes      -      Teatime Sandwiches

Sushi Rolls      -     Pepperoni Pizza      -     Shortbread Cookies      -     Wedge Salad

Shrimp Burger      -      Cinnamon Rolls      -      Sweet Potato Bisquits Vegan, GF      -      Bacon

I'd love to see pictures if you try any. Last year, I used this recipe to make heart-shaped donuts using Grand Rolls and let me tell you, they were yummy!

Now please excuse me while I go back to my colorful world filled with rainbows, unicorns and heart-shaped food...

Monday, February 9, 2015

What To Do When You're Single on Valentine's Day

Bottle Cap Guru : Etsy

The silly day that was created for silly reasons that can be awesome or can just plain stink.

During my first year of High School, my best friend got dumped days before Valentines Day. You know, the day where all the couples are sending each other balloons, candy and stuffed animals. Not only was she heartbroken, but she was going to get painful reminders all day long as people all around her were receiving gifts. I couldn't have that, so I went down to the Orange Krate (our school store) and ordered 15 giant, helium-filled black and pink balloons to be sent to her class with a giant chocolate bar. 

The balloons did their job to keep a smile on her face and from then on, Valentines Day became a bit of a big joke for us as we promised always to be each other's Valentine.

Fast forward about 10 years. I'm happily married, and it's our first Valentine's Day as husband and wife. And I'm laughing out loud because I will never spend Valentine's Day with my husband.

Why is that? Let me introduce you to a little something called the National Farm Machinery Show. This is the 50th year running and it's always over February 14th. Go ahead, click that link. You'll see that they've set the dates out all the way until 2020- who the heck plans that far ahead?!

So, for everyone else out there kicking it single-style this V-Day, here's somethings ideas to spoil yourselves, enjoy!

  • Go catch a flick - by yourself. 
    • My hair salon is right next to a movie theater and while I was sitting in the chair the other night, I realized that I really wanted to go see a movie. When I was single, I would've had no problem walking right next door to grab a ticket, a giant tub of popcorn and a seat by myself. Some people might call that lonely, but try it! I call it empowering and it makes you feel fiercely independant.
  • Host a night in with friends.
    • You make the appetizers & turn on the tunes, guests BYOB and their favorite games.
  • Take a class.
    • Check out Groupon, they've always got great deals on fun activities. Yoga, Cooking, Art, Glassblowing, Dancing, Flight Simulators, Beekeping - you name it! Find that thing you've always wanted to try...and try it!
  • Walk dogs at your local shelter.
    • Petfinder can help you to locate an animal shelter near you. Plan this one a little in advance because they usually require a short training before you're able to help.
  • Pamper yourself with an at-home spa.
    • This is the one you've been waiting for, I know it. Fill up your bathtub with hot water, then sprinkle in a couple drops of lavendar oil. Light some candles. Cover your face in a honey-mask. Shave your legs for once, then slather them in lotion. Trim and polish your nails. Do whatever makes you feel like a million bucks.
  • Join the dating website Farmer's Only.
    • Just kidding- THEY'RE ALL BUSY!

Hopefully these ideas are inspiring. Wherever the day may take you, have fun! 

***Oh hey hey hey PS... I almost forgot the most important part!

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